by Rebecca Talley
When I sent out my first submission, I expected an acceptance letter. After all, I wanted to write, I’d been told in high school that I had a talent, and I’d read this magazine for years. When I opened my SASE, my little bubble burst and I was thrust into the real world of writing as I read my first rejection letter. I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach and I couldn’t understand why the magazine editor hated me and thought I was a bad person.
Well, I’ve learned a lot since that first rejection. Yes, every rejection still stings, but I’ve realized that the editor, or publisher, isn’t rejecting me as a person, but rather the work I submitted. I’ve also learned that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the work isn’t valuable or well written, it may mean that what I submitted wasn’t right for that particular publisher.
For those of us addicted to creating with the written word, rejection is as much a part of the writing process as acceptance. Sure, we all want to have our blood, sweat, and tears published for the world to see and appreciate, but rejection also has its place. A rejection may spur us on to study, ponder, and recreate something we’ve written. It may motivate us to become even better writers. It may also help us be more compassionate toward others as well as appreciate even more when the acceptance comes.
I’ve found the following things to help me recover from a rejection:
1. Send it right back out to the next market on the list. I’ve sold stories to magazines that have been rejected a few times by other magazines, and with no changes to the story.
2. Keep working on another project. Focusing on a different project can help divert attention away from the rejection.
3. Send out more submissions. The more work I have out there, the more likely it is something will find a home.
4. Commiserate with my writing friends. No one understands more how much a rejection can sting than other writers. We have such a great support system in ANWA!
5. Drown my sorrows with chocolate. This one works every time for me. Sometimes, a bowl of ice cream, a workout, or playtime with my kids will make me feel much better and rev up my creative engine enough to get back in the race.
Rejection stinks and it stings, but there’s no getting around it in the publishing industry. We’ve all heard stories about now-famous writers that had dozens, even hundreds, of rejections before finding publication. The bottom line is, if we love to write and aspire to publication, we must deal with rejection. It’s just part of this crazy writing process.